Thursday 30 November 2023

Unexpected Jack Snipe

Another frosty night but not quite as cold. Another calm and sunny day. What little breeze there was came from the NE

Middleton Nature Reserve (JP, MD)
Both me and Janet checked the gulls on the main pond ice, none had colour rings again, but they are quite mobile and always a decent chance of one turning up here.
Janet took advantage of today's lightning to take these nice shots:
Mallard are often overlooked as they are so familiar, 
but the drake is a particularly handsome bird

Female Mallard, also looking smart


Grey Heron

The visitors to the Nature Reserve constantly maintain feeders around the feeding area of the main pond. Unsurprisingly, today it was particularly busy.
Some of the characters on this Blue Tit's ring are legible. Unfortunately not enough.

Blue and Great Tits

Coal Tit

I checked the "no swimming" pond. No Wigeon today and Gadwall numbers down to 22. Still 4 male Teal.
Some of the Gadwall and a Redshank, in reflective mode. There was some free water
on the pond, but this is all ice, the more reflective surface has a thin covering of water

The Teal also chose to rest where there was water over the ice or, more likely,
 it is just their weight sinking the ice slightly 

South shore (JP, MD)
I checked from Red Nab to the saltmarsh towards high water. A little later Janet went along the sea wall from Red Nab.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 23 at least - there were 8 feeding on Red Nab when I arrived, they were joined by another group of 8. This is some of them feeding alongside Shelduck.

When Janet reached Red Nab the 16 had moved on, but another group of 7 came from the north side and flew past Red Nab towards Potts Corner.
Pale-bellied Brent geese

There are normally Turnstone to be found along the wall, these are some particularly nice shots:

This one managed to turn a particularly large stone.
These shots from Jeff Gorse earlier in the week

These in flight shots by Janet today:


Lapwing 75
Some of the Lapwing with a few Redshank 

Common Snipe 6 - the tide didn't get much higher than the above shot and there were no waves so the few snipe seen were just moving away from the water's edge.
Two Redshank, a Curlew and a Common Snipe in this clip shows just how sedate the movement from the incoming tide was.

Common Snipe and Redshank

Jack Snipe 1 - seeing one was unexpected, their presence was pretty much assured, but they are not normally flushed by this height of tide, and when they are, they almost always land on another section of saltmarsh. But this one lifted off the water's edge and flew right over my head towards Middleton Nature Reserve. Great views but too quick for a shot!

Dunnock 5 - at least 2 more than the usual here.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Big increase in Brents

A hard overnight frost (-2.8°C) followed by a sunny day, but the air temperature remained low. A light NE breeze.

Middleton Nature Reserve 
Janet checked in the morning
The gulls (Black-Headed plus a couple of Herring) were on the main pond ice.
Always worth checking these for colour rings, none seen today.

Cetti's Warbler 1 singing 
Redwing 4 -5


Grey Squirrel, also after the Hawthorn berries

Janet located a male Wigeon, at this point on the main pond with the Mallard.
The last couple of winters we have had a pair of Wigeon in association with the Gadwall, so I went for a look in the afternoon (MD).
Sure enough it was now with the 28 Gadwall on the "no swimming" pond, no sign of a female though.

One of four male Teal

South shore towards high water (MD)
It was a lovely day, but surprisingly few walkers (none), so the birds on Red Nab had moved in with the tide and were close to the sea wall.
Shelduck 3
Wigeon 214
Pale-bellied Brent goose 43 - there were two main groups 32 and 11, but within these groups many were defending their patch to feed in smaller subgroups.

I think they are all in this clip, but they are not so easy to pick out as the strong sunlight is behind them. You can hear their soft honks as well as the Wigeon and Oystercatcher calling.

Adult Pale-bellied Brent geese

I had them to myself for about 10 minutes before the inevitable dog walkers arrived (dogs have to be exercised, I was just grateful for the unexpectedly long gap). By this time the two groups had separated 32 flew off into the sun the remaining 11 were still out from Red Nab when I left, but had moved on before Kevin passed a little later.

Great Crested Grebe 1 out past wooden jetty
Rock Pipit just 1
Robin 2 birds where there aren't normally any. One along the sea wall and this one foraging around the lighthouse 

Tuesday 28 November 2023

A Grey Wagtail tale

An overnight frost followed by a sunny and virtually calm day.

South shore 
I just checked from Red Nab to No.2 outflow on the rising tide (MD). Timed to catch the Brent flying to Red Nab.
Pale-bellied Brent goose 15 - arrived at 09:45 just as the tide had reached Red Nab.
Pink-Footed goose c200 in several smallish skeins north,  mainly overland to the east.
Shelduck 12
Wigeon 150+
Grey Heron 1
Little Egret 3
Immature Little Egret, still with much yellow on its legs.

Little Gull 1 adult - was feeding on No.2 outflow (it's not easy keeping them in focus when they fly towards you!)

Some nice shots from Red Nab by Chris Penrice:

Curlew and Oystercatcher 

Some of the, distant, Pale-bellied Brent Geese

Song Thrush at Heysham Nature Reserve

Middleton Nature Reserve (MD)
I just checked the "no swimming" pond on my way home.
Mute 2 adult plus 2 immature 
Moorhen 2
Teal 5 (1 female)
Gadwall 25
It was good seeing the Mute feeding on the deeper weed (as they have evolved to do) rather than waiting for hand outs at the main pond.
There were a few thrushes moving between the trees, at least:
Redwing 5
Blackbird 4
Song Thrush 1 

Sparrowhawk 1

Imperial Road (MD)
I just had a quick stop off this afternoon (no sign of the foxes)
Mute Swan 2 adult
Little Egret 5

This Wren was defending its patch of Reedmace
It is just preparing to fly in this shot.

This colour ringed Grey Wagtail is a star! See sidebar for scheme details.
It was ringed as a 1st winter bird at Middleton Nature Reserve 14/09/19 and was recorded that winter in Yeovil Somerset - 345km south from where it was ringed.
In the spring of 2020 it was seen as a breeding male at Teviot Bridge Roxburgh - 159km NE of where it was ringed and 504km north of its wintering grounds.
It has returned and been seen at Yeovil each winter since (the above picture is from Yeovil this week).
If it returned to Roxburgh in 2021 it didn't breed in the same spot, but in 2022 it was again seen breeding at Teviot Bridge.

Monday 27 November 2023

Brent behaving, but the Little gull still elusive

Heavy overnight rain stopped about 09:00, it then remained dry. A very cold and, thankfully, light north wind.

Only records from the south sea wall so far.
Kevin was first out.
Pale-bellied Brent 15 on Red Nab
A lovely shot of an immature male Eider between the outflows

Janet was hot on his heels and also saw the Eider, although the tide was further out by this time. 
It came under the wooden jetty then headed to number one outfall.

Little Gull 1 adult on No.2 outflow

In this light the inner underwing looks pale.
Possibly what I thought was a 2nd calendar year bird last week (MD)

In these last three shots it has picked up something long and thin.
Too long and thin for a sandeel, possibly a Pipefish.

You will have to open the pictures to be able to see its catch

This Black-Headed gull also has a long thin fish,
but this one looks right for a sndeel

Just a few of the 160+ Wigeon


Janet was just coming off as I was setting off c13:00 (MD). No sign of the Little gull on the way out or the way back. The Brent Geese were still feeding on Red Nab, but headed for the north side at 13:20.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Scaup adds some interest

A fine but overcast day. Light breeze from SE.

South shore (MD)
Pink-Footed goose 570 in three main waves low to the north at 08:50
Pale-bellied Brent goose 16 on Red Nab before flying south when flushed by the tide.
Wigeon 200+
Scaup 1 female/immature 
Scaup - originally it was just out from the harbour mouth.

It then started heading out and swam past the wooden jetty.

I thought that was it, but it then swam back and headed into the harbour. This is where it was when I left.
(Pete Crooks also saw a Scaup up at Teal Bay this morning - for details visit LDBWS webpage

Little Gull 1 adult very briefly on No.2 outflow. There was hardly any gulls feeding here today, then the Little gull just appeared from "nowhere" did a short circuit and disappeared again, presumably very little food was coming through.

Grey Plover 1 on the few remaining Red Nab rocks. It appears to eat some gutweed, possibly there were invertebrates mixed in with it.

Grey Plover
Rock Pipits 3

This male Bullfinch was calling in the Nature Park

North Shore
Howard managed to find two flagged Knot roosting at the heliport this morning, unfortunately one was too badly damaged to read.
This one could be read - details awaited

Once again there was a large roost on Heysham Head rocks, mainly Knot but Redshank and Oystercatcher too. Janet took this panoramic shot of them. If you open it you can see the detail of individual birds, it shows how many pairs of legs you have to check to find any with colour rings or flags (I can't see any amongst this lot (MD)).

Then something spooked them and they were all in the air

Saturday 25 November 2023

An entertaining 15min stop off

Overnight frost followed by another nice sunny day. A very light east breeze.

Janet reported large numbers of Pink-Footed geese feeding in the field next to Heysham Moss Nature Reserve 

Also from Janet
Knot on the rocks out from Heysham Head,
looks like they were flushed from the heliport wall again

Imperial Road - this is the road to the recycling centre about 500m from the Heysham end of the bypass (Bay gateway). This road marks the eastern boundary of the recording area. I didn't actually have a walk today (MD), I just parked by the gate at the bypass end of Imperial Road and watched nature for 15 minutes as the traffic whizzed along the bypass. It was very pleasant and reasonably productive.
Water Rail 1 squealing.
Wood Pigeon 12 feeding on the short grass
Buzzard 1 flew north 
Raven 2 flew north west, both at the same time but not flying together.

Long-Tailed Tit 11 a flock passed close by, unfortunately there were no other species with them.

Long-Tailed Tit - this one ringed

This clip is a bit short on detail, but gives a nice sense of the feeding flock activity.

Cetti's Warbler 1 singing (twice). It was in the scrub right next to the bypass, about 30m to the right of the above clip. Pete advises that this is the first record for this specific tetrad (the pond further along the road is in a different tetrad)

Even though there was plenty of interest, I'm not normally good at staying in one spot for long, but these two foxes were keeping me entertained. They seemed to be either a vixen with a youngster or possibly two  youngsters.
This one was the first to arrive

The other was initially some distance away, when this clip pans out you can just see the first fox on the right, by the bush next to the pylon.

But it quickly came closer. I think most dog owners will recognise this behaviour.

I wasn't sure what to expect when they came together. In the end it was an anticlimax 
After a while, they went off foraging together. One or both of them were in view the whole time I was there.

On the way back I just had a quick look at the "no swimming" pond on Middleton Nature Reserve. No sign of yesterday's Little Grebe or Teal and just one male Tufted Duck. But the Gadwall had increased to 16.
The Carrion Crows seem to be defining their territories.

You may have noticed in the above clip that the catkins are emerging.
A sure sign of spring......according to my twentieth century reference books!